A report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) to be published next month sounds the alarm that most species and habitats across the continent are in poor condition and the risk of extinction continues to rise.
New figures for the UK also show that even the most important and rare plants and animals are suffering: eight out of 10 habitats and half of species given the highest level of European protection are in an “unfavourable” condition.
Species at risk in the UK range from insects like the honeybee and swallowtail butterfly, to mammals and birds at the top of the food chain such as the otter and the golden eagle, said the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH).
The losses threaten to undermine vital ecosystem services like clean water and fertile soils, which underpin both quality of life and the economy, said Jacqueline McGlade, the EEA’s executive director.
Biodiversity is crucial, and it’s about time it rose up the agenda, even if they have to focus on the economic impacts. Putting aside the moral arguments of intrinsic value, ecological systems are hugely important for more practical reasons: we are entirely dependent upon them. In addition to the above, it’s worth knowing around 80% of our food supply comes from around just 20 plant species, which just goes to show how fragile our reliance already is. It only takes a few viruses or events to wipe out some of those crop species and leave huge swathes of the world in a dire situation; and a diverse ecosystem is stable and more resilient, so we should be doing more to prevent their destruction.